A couple of people have asked me “how did you find childcare?” and “how did you know that childcare was going to treat your baby well?”. This blog post will hopefully answer some of these questions.
The first thing I did was research. You want to know about the ins and outs of licensed vs unlicensed. Unlicensed usually means that they have less kids to look after, it’s home based and it can be cheaper. If you go with unlicensed, you want to ensure that their daycare is safe, clean and well maintained.
If you go with licensed, you will have the peace of mind that the daycare will have at bare minimum a yearly inspection and the daycare is required to meet certain criteria. These establishments can be in the home or in a facility. They generally will have more kids per adult.
Ask for references in all cases whether it’s licensed or not.
More info on choosing childcare here.
Where do I look for daycares?
You could look online (I didn’t find very many websites out there for daycares in Victoria – a possible market for daycare websites?). Or go to Usedvictoria.com. I heard that some people have had good success with usedvic, but we didn’t go this route.
I went straight to CCRR. Their mission “Victoria Child Care Resource and Referral, in partnership with the community, strives to enhance the availability and accessibility of a range of quality child care options and services to meet the needs of children, families, and child care providers.”
Here you can fill out a free online form to request all the different types of childcare that are located in Great Victoria. I believe there is also something similar for different parts of Vancouver Island.
Once you fill in the form, you will receive an email back quite quickly giving you a list of all the childcare that is in the areas you specified. And a bunch of helpful information on how to determine good daycares. All free.
Within that information you will find a lot of info pertaining to each daycare: contact info, address, hours, license type, price, what kinds of activities the children do on a typical day, training from the provider, availability, and sometimes the provider will write a small helpful write up on a day in the life at the facility. Keep in mind this info might not be completely up to date.
What do I do next?
Critique all the daycares that were sent to you. Do they watch TV? Do they have ECE training (Early Childhood Education Training), is that important to you? Do they do training to keep their skills up? Do they do a fair amount of activities, crafts, music, dance, etc…? Do they go outside? Do they do out trips?
Narrow down your search and then you must phone them. This is the most daunting part. And if you think about it, daycares during the day are usually busy tending to children, so they most likely won’t answer the phone. LEAVE A MESSAGE. Record on your sheet those that you left a message for, so you can go back later and call them again if they didn’t get back to you. It could take them several days to get back to you. Don’t get discouraged.
Ask them some questions as outlined on this document. Ask them if they have space, and if they don’t, GET ON THEIR WAITLIST if they have one. There’s no harm. The worst that’s going to happen is they are going to call you back and you already have childcare by that time and then you say “no thank you”.
Don’t be alarmed if they ask if your child is a boy or a girl. Some daycares want to have a good mix of the different genders. This is allowed.
Viewing the daycare
If they do have space, arrange to view their establishment. Take this checklist with you. You’ll want to prepare for two visits. One when there are children present to see how the provider works with the children. And then one when there are no children present (usually after hours) when you would fill in the paperwork.
Do not skip this step of viewing the establishment! I can tell you we went and viewed a licensed daycare which was located in a coop after hours. The provider looked like she hadn’t had a shower for a week. The space where the kids played was their living room on couches from the 60s. Downstairs there was a concrete play area with no windows. There was a school across the street but her backyard was only dirt and so very small. We hightailed it out of there after only about 15mins.
I was very surprised that this place passed a licensed daycare!
When you’re at the daycare you want to come prepared to ask a lot of questions. I used this sheet for the questions. Don’t worry, the provider is used to it. And by the way, the provider is also sizing you up at the same time to ensure your family is a good fit for the daycare. Best behaviour y’all!
TIP: Bring your child when he/she is fully rested and fed.
So you’ve got all this information now gathered, you’re nervous about going back to work, leaving your baby, and now you have to make a really hard decision. Which daycare do you go with (hopefully there are a couple to chose from).
The best course at this point is to call Daycare Licensing (if you’ve chosen a licensed daycare) – 250-519-3401. This is another bonus for choosing a licensed daycare. When you call them, you can let them know that you have a few daycares you would like some more info on. They usually will put you through to the licensing officer for each daycare. This officer can then go through with you the different visits they have made, how attentive the provider has been to making fixes (if needed), and the best part is they can tell you if the establishment has had any issues. Now, for privacy reasons they can’t tell you what issues they have had. One of the drawbacks though is that if the daycare has had an issue (lets say a neighbour calls in to say that the daycare is too loud), this will show up as an issue and the licensing officer can’t tell you what the issue is so it leaves you with a sense of, is this place really ok?
I can tell you from my experience that, the place we ended up putting our wee babe was a licensed place with zero issues.
I can also tell you that I had called for 3 other places and one of the places was pretty terrible (not my coop nightmare, I didn’t even call for that one).
Lastly, make sure you call those references! I’m sure they all are going to make glowing recommendations of the daycare but it’s great to finally get a first hand recommendation. Then you get to hear how loving, kind, gentle, and fun the provider is! Almost the best part of the process IMHO.
Let the daycare know that you’ve chosen them (and let the other daycares know you didn’t chose them) and fill in the necessary paperwork and deposit.
Start your little bean on a gradual entrance to the daycare to get them warmed up (this is also for your separation anxiety too!!). The daycare is more than likely very used to new children and new parents leaving their children so they should be very accommodating and understanding.
Finding daycare is probably one of the most difficult, emotional things a parent can go through with many ups and downs (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have shed some tears through this experience. At one point we had everything all lined up, just needed to go sign the paperwork and then the daycare provider called me to say she was having health issues and might have to shut the daycare down. I had to start my search all over again from the beginning! So frustrating.). I’d chalk it up to planning a wedding! It’s not easy. It’s time consuming. There are set backs. But in the end if you do all the leg work, you will find yourself with a wonderful daycare, perfect for you and your child.
There is a tonne of good information located here that helped me immensely. Don’t skip reading all of it.
Good luck! You’re going to find the perfect place.
If anyone is interested in starting a side business with me on doing all this leg work for parents (save for visiting the facilities), let me know. I’ve always thought that this would be the perfect business to get going as it just takes so much time to do all the research! Imagine if you as a parent could just pay someone to look for all the daycares, set up appointments for you to go and visit, call the licensing, call references if you really didn’t want to do that, all for a small fee. How wonderful would that be!!